Concert, CD release will bring Normandie Wilson to La Jolla’s Athenaeum

By Ashley Mackin

Normandie Wilson, pianist and singer/songwriter, is excited about her 7:30 p.m. March 7 performance at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library as part of its acoustic series. Really, really excited. The San Diego resident said the location and the audience that frequents it, is a perfect fit for her music.

“I’m excited because my music is listening music and the Athenaeum is a listening room. People don’t go (to the Athenaeum) to drink, they don’t go to party; they go to listen to the music. So I think it’s going to be nice,” she said. Of her part-jazz, part-rock ‘n’ roll, part-pop music on piano she added, “It’s music for a lounge, it’s not music for a crowded bar. It’s classy music for a classy situation.”

Athenaeum Executive Director Erika Torri commented, “The acoustic series was established a few years ago to attract a younger audience. In addition, it is in keeping with our commitment to support San Diego talent. ... The Athenaeum attracts a varied audience, since we are presenting a large concert program in chamber music, as well as in jazz and contemporary music (such as Wilson’s).”

Because Wilson’s melodies and lyrics are inspired by artists such as Burt Bacharach, Cole Porter and Dionne Warwick, the piano is her instrument, and just another reason she’s looking forward to the show.

“Being a piano player — and I am a pianist, I’m not a keyboardist — I’m often forced to play on the keyboard, so anytime I get to play on a wonderful piano, it’s a treat,” she said. “And the piano in the Athenaeum is perfect.”

The show will double as a CD release party for Wilson’s tenth album, “Geography and Other Problems,” which she said will allow audiences to get to know her and her sound.

“I hope to introduce myself to a different scene of people ... I think there are a lot of people in La Jolla who want to hear this kind of music and I want to get feedback from the crowd. If everything goes well, I hope to play in La Jolla every month,” she said.

The lyrics were inspired by a 2011 tour of the United States and Europe, and the sights and adventures involved. Wilson said ideas for lyrics come to her in her dreams. “I’m really inspired by words ... I think lyrics are the most important part of the song ... they need to be important, they need to mean something. I love word play, puns and everything having to do with the English language.”

Experimenting with language and writing everyday, no matter how little, is a fundamental part of Wilson’s process. “You have to write a lot of bad songs to get to the good ones,” she said. “Sometimes you have to write unfinished songs. I have often found myself with song fragments that years later come together and get reworked.”

With her experience performing solo and with two other bands, she’s had a lot of opportunities to work and rework and play with lyrics. She often performs with Red Pony Clock, a 10-piece band that played at the Athenaeum’s Fiesta Del A’Lista; and Blue Velvet, a cover band that performs in elaborate costumes and wigs.

Members of Blue Velvet will join Wilson during her Athenaeum show, which she promises will add an extra element of fun. And, as if she didn’t need another reason to be excited about the show, she will also be celebrating her birthday that night.


The concert is 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 7 at Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St. Tickets: $12 members, $17 non-members at

or (858) 454-5872.